I feel relief after reading other people’s blog posts about Breton. I am not the only one that feels at a loss with this information.
As I strive to make sense of Andre Breton’s Manifestoes of Surrealism, I am beginning to realize how unaware of past events I truly am. Up to this point, I have been satisfied of my grade school knowledge of World War I and even World War II. The political movements of the early 1900s have no relevance in my realm of understanding today…or so I thought. If we were to shift the surrealist movement into events that I had experience with, I would readily find more meaning. However, I am not sure how to merge World War I with the ongoing war in Iraq. Nor do I know how to make September 11th fit into this schema either.
Just like my understanding of history is poor, so is my understanding of politics. I don’t understand United States politics let alone the politics surrounding the French and the Russians in the early 1900s. So, I will not even try to comment on the first few readings for Tuesday, March 4. Skipping ahead to On Surrealism in its Living Works, I will try to make sense out of something.
Breton makes surrealism sound as if it just came out of nowhere. “It is a matter of common knowledge today that Surrealism, as an organized movement, was born of a far-reaching operation having to do with language. […] What was it all about? Nothing less than the rediscovery of the secret of a language whose elements would then cease to float like jetsam on the surface of a dead sea” (297). Breton uses his theories regarding free writing to the best of his abilities. Can I assume that free writing would be not only conscious thought, but also writing done in metaphors?
Why is it that I am hung up on what I do not understand and what I can’t make sense out of?
“The world thereupon seems to be like a cryptogram which remains indecipherable only so long as one is not thoroughly familiar with the gymnastics that permit one to pass at will from one piece apparatus to another” (303). Is this how I should be thinking about surrealism?
And now for my final, rambling thought, I am interested in Breton’s leadership skills. It seems like many movements, although I cannot think of one off the top of my head, never take off, but surrealism was a big hit. The new way of modern thinking was adapted from writing to suit the needs of other medium. Was it strictly the events that happened prior to the surrealist movement and the branching off of the Dadaist group that made it so successful or were the people involved also beneficial in the progression of this movement?
In reference to poetic intuition: “This intuition, finally unleashed by Surrealism, seeks not only to assimilate all known forms but also boldly to create new forms—that is to say, to be in a position to embrace all the structures of the world, manifested or not” (304). I liked this final quote because it seemed to convey that surrealism was easier to understand than it appears. It makes surrealism sound so happy and light.
One more thing, I have noticed that in his writing Breton capitalizes the “s” on surrealism, whereas I have not been capitalizing it. Does this have to do with Breton’s ownership of the surrealist movement or have I been performing a faux pas?
At last I have completed this poor exercise in free writing.